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TU Berlin

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Provision and financing of assistive technology devices in Germany: A bureaucratic odyssey? The case of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and Duchenne muscular dystrophy.

Henschke C
Health Policy 105(2-3): 176-84 (DOI:10.1016/j.healthpol.2012.01.013)





The regulations for financing assistive technology devices (ATDs) are complex and fragmented and, thus, might influence adequate provision of these devices to people who need multiple ATDs. This study aims to explore and analyze patients’ problems with the provision and financing of ATDs for the following two rare diseases: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).


A survey was conducted by means of semi-standardized questionnaires addressing the issues of coverage decisions for ATDs and problems with provision of ATDs. Information was retrieved from ALS (n=19) and DMD (n=14) patients. Conducted interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using qualitative content analysis.


Respondents experienced difficulties with the provision and financing of ATDs. They underlined problems such as long approval processes and a serious bureaucratic burden, which induced inadequate provision of ATDs. Experiences of ALS and DMD respondents frequently were similar, especially regarding financing decisions and the process of decision making by sickness funds.


The results suggest that difficulties in receiving and financing ATDs are common problems among ALS and DMD patients. There is a need for an interdisciplinary approach in the provision of ATDs and their financing, which should be coordinated by case managers.

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